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Critique Essay Humanities Natural Sciences Nonfiction Social Sciences

Enacting Transgender: An Ethnography of Transgender Ontology in a Pediatric Gender Clinic

By Jeremy Gottlieb , 2018

Allopathic medicine has made recent advances in providing medical assistance for transitions in transgender and gender non-conforming youth. This same population has increased rates of attempted suicide in comparison to the cis-gender population. Through ethnographic observations of clinical visits and interviews with patients and care-providers, this thesis examines the ontology of gender and transgenderism in trans-children and adolescents in a pediatric gender clinic. This study argues that realities of gender are enacted through practice and that transgender ontologies come into being in the conflict of gender enactments—often through temporal ruptures. These relational enactments of gender and transgender are positioned temporally to engender a normative sequence of transition within the gender clinic. Using an ethnographic lens, this thesis further reveals a morbid irony in which the gender clinic only serves patients who have supportive parents, thus failing to reach trans- youth experiencing intimate transphobia and violence. Finally, this study explores how, in the face of trans- death, the queer temporalities of transition allow the patients of the gender clinic to create and catch glimpses of extraordinary futures. The study contributes to scholarship in medical anthropology, trans- studies, science and technology studies, queer theory, and gender and feminist studies.

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